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Police department gets 'MADD' at drunk drivers: Carrollton PD says drunk driving is major concern for department
Every year, thousands of drivers are arrested for drunken driving incidents. The problem is of particular importance to the state of Texas as it has the second-highest amount of yearly alcohol-related accidents, according to MADD.org.
"Last year, the staff assisted more than 4,000 victims of drunken driving incidents," said Jeff Miracle, MADD Dallas executive director.
Locally, the Carrollton Police Department arrests between 400 and 500 individuals for drunk driving every year. As of Sept. 19, there have been 59 alcohol-related crashes and 298 DWI arrests in Carrollton so far this year. Last year, there were 74 alcohol-related crashes and 408 DWI arrests. In March, Officer Jeff Sallee's squad car was destroyed after being struck by a DWI driver. These alarming statistics have prompted the department to put several new programs into place.
Sergeant Andy Horn of the Carrollton Police Department said drunk driving is a major concern for the department.
"This is one of our top priorities in the patrol division," he said. "Though catching a car burglar may recover property and feel like a good day's work, taking an intoxicated driver off of the street has farther-reaching effects. The lives we save will never know they were in danger."
Effective DWI enforcement is one of the department's goals, which has resulted in several tactics to help put an end to drunk driving.
These tactics include educating officers and the citizens police academy, adopting new policies that allow officers to track DWI reports outside city limits, and the employment of two Drug Recognition Experts.
"Sometime around the new year, Carrollton will be going 'no refusal' on blood specimen samples only, 24/7," Horn said. "We will train our jailers to draw blood this October. The entire arrest, blood draw and book-in will occur here at our jail. We already do electronic search warrants, so the entire process will go quite quickly. We anticipate this will increase our enforcement ability, save time, reduce budget and most importantly, ensure much more effective prosecution. We will also be providing this service to Coppell PD, as they will house their arrestees at our facility."
Horn said the department conducts no refusal deployments whenever possible, and previously conducted no refusals during the holiday season.
"In recent years, our manpower has been very limited," he said.
The department's decision to move to a no refusal, began with several people at all levels of the department, reorganizing, reevaluating and changing our bureau direction and mission, Horn said.
"DWI enforcement is a priority to all of us and this is how the prioritization came to life," he said. "We know that the intoxilyzer is commonly fought in court, that cases where no sample is obtained can be hard to win and that we are wasting a lot of time in the court system with these cases. Our goal in Carrollton isn't just to arrest people; it is to get convictions down the line. Blood evidence is our best tool to that end."
Horn said officers are reducing overtime costs - the time officers lose with their families while in court and the burden on the court system - through the blood draw program.
Carrollton adopted the program after following the lead of Dalworthington Gardens Police Department - a small department nestled in Arlington.
"We have to thank all of them for this assistance, otherwise we wouldn't be able to undertake such a task," he said. "The DAs offices are very pleased with this decision and support all of our efforts, further strengthening our purpose to pursue this project."
The department also plans on beginning an Intoxicated Driving Unit in the next month or so. This unit's responsibilities will include responding to intoxicated assault and intoxicated manslaughter offenses to guide the investigation, do community relations and conduct training, Horn said.
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